Joni's situation makes no sense to Owen, but it makes perfect sense to Leslie.
Fanboys and Fangirls
"Okay, she's cute," Owen concedes to the crowd of guys surrounding him, "but I don't see why y'all are being so…" He trailed off, unable to find the words to explain his surprise that Joni Savage is the girl that nearly all of his guy classmates are losing sleep over, and that they've come to him for advice on her.
"You think she's hot too, don'tcha?" One of the guys moans. "Drat it, I don't stand a chance now."
"Hey, hey, hey!" Owen puts his hands up in surrender. "Joni's pretty, but not my type. I don't think she's anyone's type really, since she says what she wants, does what she wants, and pretty much forces everyone else to do what she wants, regardless of what they want. Also, I don't think she wants to date at the moment; she pretty much turned down guys in her year and some others who wanted to date her."
"Did you ever ask her out?"
"Dude! What sort of brain fart do you have? Of course not!" Owen stares, aghast. Where on earth – What on earth – could have given them that idea? As if red hair and outspokenness fit his criteria… Dark, intelligent eyes flashed in his thoughts, and he shook his head, focussing on the situation at hand.
"But back to the point," Owen begins. "What did you guys come to me for? I mean, I don't see –"
"That Rivera dude, you know, the one in her class?" Another guy interrupts.
"Well, duh, I mean –"
"Do you know if he's interested in her?"
"What? Santiago? We're talking about the same Santiago Rivera here, right?" Owen begins to laugh hysterically. It is so insane to him, really. The idea that Santiago Rivera, the cautious, careful and quiet gadgeteer, was interested in careless, reckless and loud Joni… It was so ridiculous!
And then – all of a sudden – Owen stops laughing, as if to remember something. Santiago and Joni nearly always paired up for their ClueFinder adventures way back when they were younger. True, after Leslie's parents voiced concern over how she was putting herself at risk (despite the fact that the ClueFinders were able to rescue her own grandfather and Joni's Uncle Pythagoras and were able to always get themselves out of the fixes they all too often found themselves in – no thanks to Joni, but that was beside the point), Joni had suggested Santiago to be paired with Leslie since Santiago was an older guy (something that irked Owen, since he was an older guy too. Okay, maybe Santiago was the eldest. Still! He was still older than Leslie and shouldn't that count for something?) and responsible (he could be responsible, right?). But that was beside the point. Santiago and Joni had always been a good team up to then, since the formation of the ClueFinders, and despite their differences, they'd always gotten along splendidly, and this hadn't changed in the five years since the formation of their little group…
After all, they have to get along well since they more or less live together while Santiago's parents are off God-knows-where and Joni's parents are fond of going to seminars and conferences and often the two are left with minimal supervision (especially since Joni turned seventeen and was almost an adult)…
Suddenly, Owen registers the silence that has befallen. Curious, he cocks his head to the side, and realizes that not a single guy is standing in front of him. What, did he say everything out loud and scare the lot of them off with his musings? Huh. Cowards, really. Anyway, any guy interested in dating Joni would find out anyway. Even though Owen's like, a ninety-nine percent sure there's nothing going on. Okay, fifty percent sure.
Oh hell. What does it matter anyway? He shrugs, and decides to go skateboarding at the park after school. Those guys put the weirdest thoughts into his head…
A few days later…
"I suppose I am deluded, but do correct this fallacy I am confronted with, Joni: is it just me, or are Santiago's most ardent admirers from the Science Club irate with you? My most recent encounter with them at the last meeting was… perturbing, to say the least," Leslie asks her friend, as they make their way to the parking lot.
Joni sighs. "So you've noticed it too, right? I don't understand it. Before this, everyone would follow whatever I say, with very few – if any – questions asked. It's still the same, but Santiago's fangirls are just weird now." She lets out another sigh. "I don't know how the Student Council is going to be able to handle the Science Club if their members are so determined to challenge me with every request."
Leslie looks at Joni pityingly. "Running a Student Council is completely different from the ClueFinders, Joni."
"Ugh, I know!" Joni rubs her eyes behind her spectacles. "The ClueFinders were much easier. People can be so complicated!"
"They would happen to be under the misconception that there is an attachment between yourself and Santiago, would they?" Leslie questions. The girls in the Science Club would fume silently when Joni's name came up several times, being the President of the Student Council, since the Student Council pretty much monitored what activities all the clubs would be holding. Leslie simply put two and two together; she wasn't a genius for nothing, after all.
Joni laughs. "Where in the world would they get an idea like that? Santiago been avoiding them recently?"
"Maybe they're envious of the fact that both of you are close acquaintances," Leslie says seriously, as they approach the car. Leslie usually hitches a ride in Joni's red convertible or – if she's desperate – Owen's motorcycle. She'd take Joni's red convertible over Owen's motorcycle any day, although she's counting the days that she can get her own wheels (something her parent's promised her since they realized what a dare-devil Joni is as a driver, and didn't want her to be on bikes with guys).
As they approach, they see Santiago leaning against Joni's car, tall and lanky and comfortably fiddling with one of his modified gadgets. He looks up and Joni laughs, waving at him. A tiny smile plays around the corners of his mouth, visible from afar, but he just shakes his head and continues fiddling with the gadget in his head. Joni isn't pissed off with his reaction, not really. Instead she laughs at his taciturn behaviour. Joni turns around, and replies, "Santiago's a pretty cool guy, so I guess I can understand," before running off to Santiago, in public, smiling (even though she portrays a business-like persona in front of people she's not close too) and then tugs at his arm (even though Santiago doesn't really do physical contact).
Well then. Leslie shakes her head, gets in the back seat, as Joni and Santiago sit in front, Joni chattering away happily, while Santiago nods and comments at appropriate moments. Leslie thinks that this is normal and this is the way things have always been and always will be, as she opens a textbook and decides to do some light reading before she gets home.